photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Skillshare
He’d always been her golden child, born after years of sorrow.
He’d always been her precious jewel, the promise of tomorrow.
He’s gone to take the saffron robes, been hers only to borrow.
Earlier today, as I was attempting to video a particularly adorable little one, my phone froze. It would not budge. It refused even to turn off. Total strike. When it finally relented, responded, and restarted, it claimed that the MicroSD card that had lain securely in its innards, accumulating goodies, was “blank or has unsupported files.” Gulp!
Removing and remounting the tiny tech did nada. Restarting again? Zilch. Thousands of photos, videos, music and docs – more than 27 Gigabytes’ worth – gone! Some are backed up, perhaps, someplace. Many? Who knows.
I breathed. I zoomed through the phases of grief. I put the phone away. I fed the toddler some fruit. We both had a sip (and spill) of water. We chased dogs, a little boy with a ball, an ant, and three pigeons.
Back home, I tried to view Micro (it felt right to name it, after it turned my day on its head) on the computer. No luck. Not only did my laptop refuse to load the card’s info, it would not even acknowledge that Micro existed. To add insult to injury, Micro’s ordeal somehow managed to keep it invisible even as it shut down the whole card-reader drive so it would not read any other memory cards, either. Micro had suffered Total Amnesia With Driver-Scrambling Influences.
Even according to the normally super helpful remote-‘hijackers’ of computers, the poor data that had lived on Micro, is to be presumed evaporated. Oh, my phone returned to work deceptively fine. The contacts are intact. So are any WhatsApp images (normally so infuriatingly immune to living anyplace but the prime real-estate of internal storage, and now more snobbish than ever, being the only ones to have survived). It is the photos I’d taken myself, the videos I’d shot, the files I’d stored, the music I’d downloaded, that have disappeared into the abyss. Whatever caused this massive ‘phone syncope,’ it damaged only the deceptively giant brain of my little Micro, but by all accounts it did so spectacularly!
So here I am, a bit disoriented and feeling a touch of loss and more than a bit bewildered. I can’t help but worry that whatever had caused the irreversible amnesia might pay a return visit, especially as the culprit remains unexplained (and unrecoverable). It doesn’t help that certified geeks spent hours trying to figure out how one scrambled Micro-SD managed to make other cards not be readable just by association, and continued to do so even after repairs, rebuilds, refresh, and the odd time-travel of restore.
Being prone to seeing synchronicity as messaging, I’m wondering if today’s drama is a metaphor for the contagion of energy and chaos. So timely with the current snags and ripples in the fabric of memory and history.
Adieu, photos. Adieu, videos. Adieu, all manner of notes. I remember some of you very fondly. I admit to not quite knowing what many of you were. I will miss you all, anyway.
One day (soon, if Murphy has a say in it, which he tends to in such cases), I might find myself looking for an image or a file that I just know I had ‘someplace’, only to realize that it was probably part of today’s giant exodus.
In the meanwhile, I hope this data-crater becomes an opening to new energies and an invitation for new memories on Micro-The-Second. I choose to view this as (yet another) lesson into the temporary yet indelible existence of every moment, be it captured into tangible memory or not.
For the One Word Sunday Challenge: Giant
Pain stripped her bare
Inside her mind.
She put on a brave face
So no one see
What hid behind.
But how I pray
She’s not alone:
Hope’s here to find.
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In places too many
On this one blue-green ball,
More than the weight of firewood
On their backs,
Big or small.
Sorrow, loss, illness, agony
Unheard calls …
Yet they are all
Their pain is our
They are worthy of better:
In the now
For the future
For humanity’s long haul.
For The Daily Post
He reached into his pocket and rummaged around. “I’ve brought something to show you,” he said, eyes searching mine. “But it’s a secret …”
“Oh?” I offered.
“Well, sort of,” he shrugged as an uncertain smile worked its way into his cheeks. “I took them to school … but I didn’t tell anyone … because we’re not allowed to … The teacher woulda’ taken them away and other kids maybe woulda’ told her or asked to see them and then she’d know …”
I hiked my eyes up and nodded my expectation.
The grin grew but it still held a sheen of sad.
He pulled his fist out of his pocket and turned it so the back of his hand rested on the table, then ceremoniously uncurled his fingers.
Four grains of rice in tiny vials, strung onto a keychain ring.
“They have names on them,” he said reverently.
I squinted and reached for a magnifying glass. Handed him one.
Our heads met over the small nest of palm and he mouthed the words, more sigh than voice. “Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum.”
A quartet recently eaten not by a giant smelling the blood of an English man but by a feline with a swishing tail who had knocked the fishbowl over and left not one golden scale behind.
For The Daily Post
She doesn’t know who her mom is. She was left as a newborn, wrapped in a piece of old bedsheet, under a pew in the church. Or so the story goes.
She spent her first year in the orphanage. Many mewling mouths and too few holding arms. She found a way to survive.
Halfway into her second year she got picked up, fussed over with odd sounds, carried out of the room that had been her world. It was confusing. It was good. It was a lot.
She has a family now. They love her. They are patient. Most of the time. They try.
She’s a big girl. Almost ten. She understands. Sometimes.
She still can’t help but wonder who she is. What made her undesirable. Why she was left, naked not only of clothes but of clues.
She still can’t help but wonder about the woman who’d had her, then left without a sound. The woman who isn’t even mist and fog of memory and yet she still is tethered to in heart and mind. Her Mystery Mom.
For The Daily Post
He took it with him everywhere: School, the doctor’s office, the park, the car, the dinner table. He carried it in hand, in the backpack, over his shoulder. It was to him a cape, a comfort, a memory of tucking in, a constancy.
It’s always been there. He couldn’t remember a time before.
Well-worn, oft-washed, much-handled.
Never out of sight.
He’d sit before the washing machine and watch it spinning, floppy, in a foamy sea. Later he’d guard the dryer as the blanket tumbled, already impatient to come back warm and scented into his arms.
He’d place it at the ready on the bathroom stepstool to guard him as he washed. A sentinel over his pajamas.
It waited right under the chair at mealtime, in temporary exile from his lap after his argument that the blanket could make an excellent napkin had failed.
Even at school, where he wasn’t allowed to hold it, he’d leave a small blanket-ear peeking out of his cubby; to remind him it was there, with him, waiting for the end of the school-day.
It was a coat of heart, a shroud of courage, a cover against storms of any kind.
It was almost part of him. His blanket.
Then the fire came. He was carried half-in-sleep and heavy-headed, by a man whose giant shadow painted wall-monsters against the orange flicker and the swirling smoke.
There was more flicker outside: blue and red and white and blinding. Shouts and calls and creaks and cries and movement. Yellow coats, red truck, bright door, funny mask.
And no blanket.
It was gone. To Blanket Heaven.
A spark in the sky now. A spot of cloud. A star.
Lost along with Curious George and Teddy Ben and his dinosaur car.
For The Daily Post
There’s a special place in heaven for well-loved toys. Missing ears, tatty limbs, dangly eyes, bald patches, poke-out stuffing, stained coats. Wet tummies with mold, too.
A little one described it to me, his gray-blue eyes bright with loss.
Their house had gotten damaged in a flood. Along with wet carpets and soggy couch pillows, a few unredeemable yet oh-so-precious loveables also had to be tossed out: a bunny, a teddy, and a well-hugged-sloth named Jiggly Biggly Boo.
“He got wet all the way inside him tummy,” the boy shook his curly head. “Maybe we don’t have no more towels … ” he paused, confused, then sighed. “Jiggly Biggly Boo had to go to toys heaven.”
He raised large sad eyes at me. “They have tummy towels? Him tummy got wet. He got mowed.”
For The Daily Post
The scent of home that she no longer has.
The spices, baking, the aromas
The scent of grandma,
Killed by bombs.
The scent of ugliness
The scent of mornings
Blurred by smoke.
The scent of sea, now tainted
With the stink of gasoline
The scent of tent
The scent of hope
Faint but held
In Baba’s handkerchief —
He said he’ll find them
In Wherever Land.
The scent of fear
In mother’s arms
Trying to filter comfort through her own terror
The scent of home that she no longer has
Who will help
Make a new one.
Tamina attended first-grade in a Harlem public school. She was homeless most of that year. Her mother lost the apartment after she lost her job. Sometimes they stayed with relatives but mostly Tamina, her mother and her sister slept in shelters where they could never stay very long. They carried their belongings in thick black garbage bags, protection from the weather. Tamina used to have a teddy bear, but it got left in a shelter and her mother was ‘too tired’ to go back for it. Tamina never got it back.
Tamina had very little. Other children had a home, their own bed, place for their stuff, more stuff. So she stole. Mostly small things: erasers, crayons, hair-pins. Things she could hide in her pockets and later in her black garbage bag. If confronted, Tamina would furiously demand it “was always hers.” I suspected she often believed it and wondered if some items resembled things she once had and owning them was a link to a time when life was less overwhelming. Beyond an overall language delay, Tamina seemed confused about concepts like the difference between possessing and owning: in some shelters cots were ‘first-come-first-serve’ and while you had it, it was ‘yours’ even if it did not remain so for long. You had to ‘watch’ your stuff or have it disappear. Why could an unattended eraser not be ‘hers’?
While children often crave things that are not theirs, Tamina’s stealing was possibly about unmet needs. Her mother was “always mad and cussing” and Tamina could not rely on her for support. Children whose ‘hungers’ are neglected seek other ways: become secretive, dissociate, numb themselves with substances, steal, hoard. These behaviors often further distance them from care and social support, when they in fact communicate confusion, loneliness, anger, loss, and shame.
[The above is an excerpt from “Communicating Trauma” Routledge, 2015]
Homelessness does not necessarily mean neglect, but the realities and causes of homelessness pose many risks, especially to children. In addition to loss and grief, there are increased health and safety risks, along with reduced access to care. Children without homes suffer insecurity, and their caregivers may be too overwhelmed to attend to their emotional needs. Depression, posttraumatic stress, illness, disability, poverty, domestic violence and other life-crises are all too common among parents of homeless children. Any one of these factors can overwhelm a parent and reduce their availability, let alone when such factors combine.
Having no place to call home–in all the forms it takes–can be distressing and occupying. It leaves children anxious and unavailable for learning. Homeless children are often wary and worried, angry or withdrawn. They are three times as likely to require special-education, four times as likely to drop out of school, and almost nine times as likely to repeat grades.
Homelessness devastates. It is crucial we work together to understand it and resolve it as well as support families in crisis and address risk factors before they reach a loss of home, hearth, and heart.
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